Urban Mining & Circular Building Design

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Stanimira Markova

Leitung FG Zukunfttechnologien Gebäudenachhaltigkeit


+49 241 80-93860



Intro to the full course

Resource consumption and resource scarcity together with climate change are the most critical challenges our generation and the generations to come will face. Architects, engineers and researchers in architecture and buildings have a special contribution and responsibility in this matter:
The buildings and cities we create consume alone more than 50% of the global material resources, produce more than 40% of the greenhouse gasses because of the way they are designed. Also because of the current standards in building design virtually all utilised building material are turned into waste, causing more than 65% of the globally produced waste. This waste are lost resources, lost for ever for the next generations.
The paradox is, that the amount of various materials we have accumulated in buildings already significantly exceeds the amount of naturally available raw materials in many instances. So why don’t we build buildings and cities in a way, so that we access and reuse the materials, which we have already utilised, rather than to further exhaust natural resources and turn them into waste? This is called urban mining and the building design which enables urban mining is the circular building design.

What to expect in the second term:

In the second term the students will build on their findings from the literature and research analysis and identify the currently available methods and approaches which scientist and industry use to solve the challenges of urban mining and circular economy. The focus here is on the strengths and limitations of the available methods in science and industry and the identification of the further necessary actions to enable realistic circularity and urban mining in the built environment.

Students will have the choice to participate in empiric studies and conduct interviews with the key players in the building life cycle to explore the current status quo, gaps and potentials or to work on a formulation of scenarios and reviews of the scientific body of work.

The questions and problems which we will address:

What is urban mining and what are the conditions to achieve active urban mining
You will learn about the scientific methods and basics in creating circular designs.
You will explore what enables and what inhibits material and product circularity.
You will meet and talk to the people throughout the building life cycle to learn what enables and inhibits circularity of the different types of material in every building’s life cycle phase.
You will learn about design methods which will help you boost the circularity potential of material, products and buildings.
You will investigate the potential to change the current status quo by establishing, exploring, and comparing urban mining scenarios.

This class is a 2 terms long class, beginning in SS21 till the end of WS21/22.


To participate you must have successfully finished the first part of the class.

The lecture and work language is English.